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General Kyle assumes command

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Zach Anderson
  • 4th Air Force Public Affairs
Brig. Gen. Mark A. Kyle assumed command of Headquarters, 4th Air Force, from Maj. Gen. Eric W. Crabtree at a change of command ceremony held in the C-17 hangar at March Air Reserve Base, Saturday, March 12.

General Crabtree has commanded the numbered Air Force since January 2009 and will be taking a position as deputy director, U.S. Strategic Command Center for Combating Weapons of Mass Destruction (SCC-WMD), at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, Ft. Belvoir, Va.

Prior to taking over command of 4th Air Force, General Kyle served as director of mobility forces, United States Air Forces Central in Southwest Asia.

Lt. Gen. Charles E. Stenner, Jr., chief of Air Force Reserve, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., and commander, Air Force Reserve Command, Robins Air Force Base, Ga., served as the presiding officer for the change of command ceremony.

More than 150 guests were on hand at the ceremony to welcome General Kyle as new commander and bid farewell to General Crabtree. The crowd included family, friends, military members and prominent community leaders as well as local and state legislative officials.

Additionally, 260 Airmen were in formation at the ceremony, formed into flights representing the individual units that comprise 4th Air Force command.

Staff Sgt. Jason Cale, Air Force Band of the Golden West, Travis Air Force Base, Calif., sang the National Anthem at the beginning of the ceremony prior to General Stenner delivering his opening remarks.

"This is a big day, a big transition," General Stenner said. "We are going to make some changes in a lot of folks lives."

General Stenner went on to praise the work General Crabtree has done as commander of 4th Air Force.

"He's done a fantastic job of making sure 4th Air Force is ready to go. There has been no lack of things to do over the last several years, making sure our forces get to where they need to be, making sure that the refueling is done the way it's supposed to be done, getting things to the theater. Managing the readiness of this force is a huge responsibility and Eric Crabtree has done a fantastic job."

General Stenner then addressed General Crabtree directly.

"You've taken care of people and you've grown leaders. Congratulations on your next experience. You've served us well here, and I count on you to serve us well in the future. Thank you very much for all you have done."

He then spoke of the challenges and the mission awaiting General Kyle as the new commander of 4th Air Force.

"Fourth Air Force has missions ongoing day in and day out. We have people from 4th Air Force around the world, serving globally. We have people from 4th Air Force integrated seamlessly with our active partners and our Guard partners, able to do what this mission asks them, to do globally, to take care of threats that are out there, ever-present. He will ensure that we do our Reserve part to take care of this nation's business, day in and day out, 24-seven."

Following his remarks, General Stenner presented General Crabtree the Distinguished Service Medal in recognition of his contributions during his time as commander of 4th Air Force. David Morgan, district representative for California state senator Bill Emmerson, 37th district, also presented General Crabtree with a proclamation on behalf of Senator Emmerson thanking him for his service as 4th Air Force commander.

General Crabtree then took the podium to address the crowd and his troops one final time.

"My job here has been a challenge. I would not have succeeded were it not for the staff of 4th Air Force and the men and women in the commands of the 11 wings and three groups," the general said.

"The things you have taught me and the things I have learned from being your leader will help me," he continued. "I step proudly forward to do the things that will be required of me for the next couple of years knowing that you will be out here doing the mission of 4th Air Force and the Air Force in the same outstanding fashion you have done it your whole careers."

He continued, "I know you will provide General Mark Kyle the same kind of high-quality support you have provided me. You will get to know him and Melissa and provide them the same friendly connectivity and the same expertise and the same professionalism we've seen through our time here."

Following the passing of the 4th Air Force guidon from General Crabtree to General Kyle, signifying the official change of command, General Kyle took the microphone to address his troops for the first time as their commander.

"Would the formation stand at ease, please? This is your new boss talking! Stand at ease!" he exclaimed, bringing a round of laughter from the crowd and a bit of relief to the Airmen standing in the official ceremonial formation.

General Kyle then continued, "This is an honor I never saw coming. I am excited and thrilled beyond belief. Thank you, General Stenner. I promise you won't regret this."

General Kyle went on to thank those who had organized the ceremony, and gave a special thank you to his wife, Melissa, for her support throughout his career.

He then delivered his key message to his new troops.

"To the 4th Air Force staff: Hang on. To the wing commanders and command chiefs: Lace it up."

"My message to 4th Air Force is simple. We have work to do. There is lots on the horizon. I promise you totally open communication and unfettered access to me and the process as we evolve. I am 100 percent committed to this. Let's get to work."